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Wycombe 3 Grimsby 0
By: Rob Sedgwick
ALAN Buckley's future at Blundell Park is now hanging on a thread after Grimsby capitulated to Wycombe Wanderers and were comprehensively beaten 3-0 at Adams Park, their heaviest defeat of the campaign and the first time the Mariners have failed to score this season.
Buckley made several changes for the game at a ground where they have never won in six attempts. New signing Martin Butler came in up front, and Isaiah Rankin was chosen to partner him in a 4-4-2 formation. Man City defender Logan continued at right back, but club captain Whittle returned in central defence. In midfield the injured Paul Bolland was replaced by Boshell and James Hunt was recalled as the second central midfielder.
Wycombe looked dangerous from the off, playing a fast passing game to feet and using three front men which gave Town's defence a lot to cope with.
On 5 minutes Logan allowed Torres space to get a shot in on goal, but fortunately it went wide. Five minutes later the Man City defender made amends with a last gasp clearance in the penalty box.
Wycombe took the lead with a well worked move. McGleish broke down the left and crossed to Holt in space in front of goal, who sidefooted the ball past Barnes.
Town won several free kicks in dangerous positions at various points in the first half, but their delivery at all of them was hopeless. Likewise they had quite a few corners but were equally inept at those. Town's best chance of the game came around the 35 minutes mark when a Toner shot was cleared off the line.
McGleish irritated the Town fans just before half time when he accused Logan of elbowing him in an off the ball incident, and it resulted in a bit of "handbags" but the referee took no action.
Half Time: Wycombe 1 Grimsby 0
It was a familiar tale to anyone who has seen Town play this season. Grimsby's approach play was pretty to watch but there was no end product in front of goal. Our set pieces were especially disappointing given that it was supposedly their weak area according to Paul Lambert's programme notes. Wycombe on the other hand looked dangerous every time they went forward and deserved their lead. Hopefully this would be one of the games where Town only have one good half and we had just witnessed the bad one!
Wycombe seemed happy to commit fouls in dangerous positions once it became clear Grimsby were unlikely to hurt them and the referee played along with them by taking no action beyond talking to the culprits. Finally early in the second half one of the worst offenders Martin Bullock was booked.
Several of the Town players had slipped on the surface in the first half but Rankin in the second half was hardly able to stay on his feet and seemed to slip whenever he tried to turn with the ball. He frankly was more of a liability than an asset and it was a surprise when Buckley made two substitutions, neither of which was Ranks. Clarke came on for Boshell and Bennett for Till, with Logan moving to the right side of midfield.
Grimsby created nothing of note in the first half. Butler had some good touches and looked quite useful but wasn't really given the service and his strike partner Rankin's performance left him with a lot to do.
Wycombe put the game beyond doubt with 10 minutes to go when McGleish was quickest in a mass scramble, getting his foot to a ball which had just been saved, and firing it into the net from close range.
Rankin was finally replaced by Taylor in the last few minutes but Town were chasing a lost cause and conceded a late penalty which McGleish dispatched in injury time.
Full Time: Wycombe 3 Grimsby 0
It was a poor display and especially worrying given that Town have no cards left to play the two signings we have been waiting for now having been secured. Despite the two new signings both playing they did not seem to have much effect and Alan Buckley cannot now be far from the sack.
Man of the Match was Logan was brilliant at times and wayward at others, the former greatly outnumbering the latter. Nonetheless he looks a decent player, and even capable of starting in a wide position rather than at full back.
Whatever formation and personnel Buckley has tried the result has been the same this season, suggesting there is a more fundamental problem with the methodology than with the players themselves. With crowds dropping like a stone at Blundell Park Buckley's brand of "attractive" football is also having exactly the opposite effect to what its name suggests. It was a far cry from Buckley's first league game at Adams Park almost a year ago when Town almost pulled off a shock win, but conceded a goal in the last minute. Ironically Town are probably in a worse position now than they were when Buckley took over.
The visit of Bradford to Blundell Park next Saturday is now a relegation six pointer. With Lincoln and Notts County having decided to change managers this week, failure to win this crunch game could well see Buckley joining Thompson and Schofield on the list of out of work managers.
One player who surely must be dropped next week is Rankin. No other striker has been given a decent chance this season, and yet Rankin is picked week after week and has only got one goal all season.
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